Thursday, August 3, 2017

All the Samuel Carvells... and a brick wall (plus the Tower of London)

My maternal grandfather's Carvell ancestry
Sometimes, when researching family history, you hit a brick wall. There's no way around it, there's no magic door; there are no signposts pointing in another direction. This is where I'm at with my grandad Carvell's line: I've followed it as far as I can with the resources I have, and I'm stuck, with Samuel Carvell and Elizabeth Durhead (or Diehard, or Diehead, or whatever her name might have been), who married in the tiny village of Churchover, Warwickshire, in 1776, the year of the American revolutionary war, the year the USA declared itself independant of England, though I suppose that was pretty irrelvant to a family of farm labourers living in the middle of beautiful countryside in the English midlands.

My grandfather was Joseph Arthur Carvell, born in Markfield, Leicestershire, in 1886. His father, Samuel Henry Carvell, was born in Walcote, near Lutterworth, almost on the Leicestershire/Warwickshire border, in 1859, He was already working as a farmer's boy when he was 12, but in 1878, when he was about nineteen years old, he went to Warwick and enlisted with the 28th Infantry Brigade. In 1881 he held the rank of private... but he was stationed at the Tower of London! What an adventure that must have been for a young man from Walcote.

Map of the Tower of London. Image from Genmaps. From an engraving by Richard Blome,
 published 1755 by John Stow in A Survey of the Cities of London and Westminster
Not only did Samuel Henry hang out at the Tower, with the Ravens... he went to India, too, for eighteen months service.

Samuel Henry Carvell's military history. Completed nearly ten years' service, including the reserves.
Samuel Henry Carvell didn't return to life on the farm, after his years in the military; he settled in Leicester, married Rebecca Arnold in 1885, and together they grew a family of six children, with my grandad, or as I called him, my Grandgump, Joseph Arthur, being the eldest. Grandgump was a lovely and kind man and I have many happy memories of him; going to the Leicester market and always finding his favourite cherries, Sunday afternoon teatime with Grandgump and his second wife, Lala (so called because I couldn't say "Clara" when I was little, and it stuck);  me, cycling through the fields from Syston to Scraptoft to visit him in his later years, finding him cooking a dinner of tripe in milk... he loved it, I didn't. There will be more stories to come about Joseph Arthur! But first, back to all the Samuels...

An outing for Samuel Henry Carvell, a few months before the end of his life.
Leicester Daily Mercury, 20 July 1950, reproduced by kind permission of
Image copyright Trinity Mirror
Joseph Arthur's dad was a Samuel, Samuel Henry Carvell. And Samuel Henry's dad was Samuel Carvell, too! And... his father before him! And yes: his father too. The tree goes: Joseph Arthur, Samuel Henry, Samuel, Samuel, Samuel. And I cannot find out if it continues with more Samuels beyond. Who knows? There might be Samuel Carvells in the Domesday Book! Maybe I should start there, and work forward in time: try another angle.

Each of the generations of Samuel Carvells had several children, who also had several children. Each of the Carvell families tended to use the same set of names: Samuel, John, Joseph, Mary, Ann, Thomas, Sarah. (I had an uncle Sam Carvell, and an uncle Joe Carvell too--it carried on.) This means that it can be extra tricky matching up all the "right" children with the "right" families, when you piece the tree-puzzle together. All errors are my own...

Prior to a general migration to Leicester, around the same time as Samuel Henry's move to the city, the families lived in cluster of farming communities: Misterton, Walcote in Leicestershire, Churchover in Warwickshire, with their wives from neighbouring villages; Costerbach, Claybrooke Magna, Kimcote, Bitteswell. All centered around the market town of Lutterworth, which of course is where all the farming community would meet up.

But my research has faltered, stuck at Samuel and Elizabeth who married in Churchover in 1776. I have searched the parish records online, reading the digital copy of the hand-written book... but no birth records for either Samuel or Elizabeth, though they were both "of this parish" when married. Which only means they had both lived there during the times that the Banns were read.(It wasn't a huge deal to read the parish records for the relevant years; the population of Churchover was only about 300 in its heyday!)

I understand that the Churchover parish records for the years between 1670 and 1721 went missing. That would explain why early records of a Churchover Carvell family cannot be found--if they lived there--but it doesn't explain no Carvells born or died in Churchover between 1721 and the marriage in 1776. There must be something that I'm missing.

There is another community of Carvells in nearby Hillmorton, Warwickshire, but I have not yet been able to make the connection. Same goes for a lot of Carvells in Everdon, Northamptonshire; not so very far away: a couple of hours by horse and cart. But... so far, no connection.

As for Elizabeth, the bride in 1776: it looks like her name is Durhead in the register, but that's what the person who wrote it down heard. Elizabeth signed with her mark; she did not write her name. I cannot find anyone else, anywhere, with that surname! It doesn't exist! I've tried imagining else it might be... either by staring at the signature for ages, wondering if the 'u' is an i, or if the 'r' is an n... also wondering about the sound of the name: was it Dread spoken slowly? Or Dafyd voiced very shyly? So far, I haven't found her. If you have... please let me know. Because I've been knocking up against this brick wall for well over ten years now!

But this is the fun of the puzzle!

I should probably just find all the Samuel Carvells born before 1776, and work out which one of them was the next one in my chain of Sams. That might do it!

(The Carvell name has been spelled in many ways across the years, and by different census takers and registrars. Carvell, Carvel, Carvill, Carvile: all part of the same family.)

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